Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 12 November 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region between the evenings of 10 and 11 November compared with the previous reporting period and fewer between the evenings of 11 and 12 November compared with the previous 24 hours. In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations between the evenings of 10 and 11 November compared with the previous reporting period but more between the evenings of 11 and 12 November compared with the previous 24 hours. The Mission observed damage to civilian properties from shelling in residential areas in Pikuzy. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas; it recorded ceasefire violations inside the Petrivske disengagement area. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere, including to a compound in Kadiivka, and inSiedove near the border with the Russian Federation.* The SMM facilitated and monitored repairs and maintenance of essential infrastructure near Novozvanivka,Artema and Zalizne. It visited three border areas not under government control. In Kyiv, the SMM monitored a march.

In Donetsk region, between the evenings of 10 and 11 November, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations,[1] including, however, more explosions (about 410), compared with the previous reporting period (about 340 explosions). Between the evenings of 11 and 12 November, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 290 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours.

On the evening of 10 November, while in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM heard seven undetermined explosions and about 100 bursts of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 4-7km south-east and south-south-east. On the evening of 11 November, while at the same location, the SMM heard at least 30 shots of small-arms fire 6-8km south. In the late afternoon of 12 November, while at the same location, the SMM heard nine undetermined explosions and about 40 bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 4-7km south-east and south-south-east.

On the evening and night of 10-11 November, the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, a tracer round in flight from east to west, two undetermined explosions, a tracer round from east to west, seven undetermined explosions, 25 tracer rounds from east to west, followed by aggregated totals of 33 explosions (three explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds, three as impacts and the remainder undetermined), 27 projectiles in flight (19 from east to west and eight from west to east) and 24 tracer rounds in flight from east to west, all 0.5-1.5km south. On the afternoon of 11 November, the same camera recorded, in sequence, 14 undetermined explosions, three projectiles in flight from west to east, three undetermined explosions, followed by aggregated totals of 39 undetermined explosions, one airburst assessed as an artillery round, and four projectiles and three tracer rounds in flight from west to east, all 0.5-1.5km south. In the early hours of 12 November, the camera recorded, in sequence, a projectile in flight from east to west, three undetermined explosions and a projectile in flight from east to west, all 0.5-1.5km south. In the late afternoon, the camera recorded, in sequence, two tracer rounds in flight from east to west, an undetermined explosion, a projectile in flight and 16 tracer rounds from east to west and two undetermined explosions, all 0.5-1.5km south.

On the evening of 10 November, the SMM camera in government-controlled Avdiivka (17km north of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, 13 tracer rounds in flight from east to west, two explosions assessed as impacts and seven tracer rounds from east to west, all 4-6km east.

During the day on 11 November, positioned on the south-western edge of Avdiivka for about four hours, the SMM heard about 30 undetermined explosions and about ten bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 1-4km east and east-south-east, as well as about 70 undetermined explosions and about 150 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-7km at directions ranging from south to south-west. The following day, positioned at the same location, the SMM heard about 20 undetermined explosions and about ten bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 2-5km at directions ranging from south-east to south-west.

During the day on 11 November, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard 53 undetermined explosions, 15 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire and a total of eight minutes of uncountable overlapping bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-10km at directions ranging from south-south-west to north-west. Positioned on the south-western edge of Yasynuvata for about an hour, the SMM heard 30 undetermined explosions 5-10km south-west and an undetermined explosion 2-4km west-north-west. The following day, positioned at the railway station in Yasynuvata for about six hours, the SMM heard about 60 undetermined explosions, about 80 bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, as well as uncountable and overlapping bursts of small-arms fire over the course of about 30 minutes, all 2-7km at directions ranging from south-west to north-west.

On the evening of 10 November, the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, seven tracer rounds in flight from east to west, three tracer rounds from west to east, an illumination flare in flight from north to south and four tracer rounds from west to east, all at unknown distances and directions. The following evening, the same camera recorded two undetermined explosions 4-6km north.

On the morning of 11 November, positioned 2km south-south-east of “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM, in a six-minute period, heard 17 undetermined explosions 1km west. During the same period of time, positioned 1km south-west of Shyrokyne – across the contact line – the SMM heard two explosions (and saw smoke rising) assessed as impacts 3.5-4km east-north-east, and heard seven undetermined explosions and a minute of uncountable overlapping bursts and shots of heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all at unknown distances east-north-east. Shortly thereafter, positioned about 2.5km south-east of Sakhanka, the SMM, within 15 minutes, heard nine undetermined explosions and four bursts west, eight undetermined explosions north, and two undetermined explosions south, all at unknown distances.

On the morning of 11 November, positioned 2km south-south-east of government-controlled Lebedynske (16km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard 23 undetermined explosions and six bursts of small-arms fire, all 2-4km at directions ranging from north-east to east-south-east, as well as 12 undetermined explosions at unknown distances north-north-east.

During the day on 11 November, positioned 1km north of “DPR”-controlled Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard about 30 undetermined explosions, all at unknown distances south and south-west.

On 12 November, positioned 1km north-north-west of the entry-exit checkpoint in government-controlled Pyshchevyk (25km north-east of Mariupol), the SMM heard about 50 undetermined explosions and about ten bursts of small-arms fire, all 2-5km at directions ranging from south-east to south-west, as well as about 120 undetermined explosions and about 50 bursts and shots of infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (BMP-2) cannon (30mm), heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all at unknown distances at directions ranging from east to south-south-east.

In Luhansk region, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations (three, all explosions), between the evenings of 10 and 11 November, compared with the previous reporting period (16 explosions). It recorded more ceasefire violations, including about 70 explosions, between the evenings of 11 and 12 November, compared with the previous 24 hours.

In the late afternoon of 12 November, while on the northern edge of government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 60 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds of automatic-grenade-launcher fire 6-10km south-south-east. Shortly afterwards, while in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka (formerly Stakhanov, 50km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 52 explosions assessed as possible impacts and ten bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, all 8-10km west.

During the day on 12 November, positioned in “LPR”-controlled Yuzhna-Lomuvatka (60km west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 12 undetermined explosions, all 5-7km at directions ranging from west to north.

On 12 November, the SMM observed damage to civilian properties from shelling in residential areas in “DPR”-controlled Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol). At 112 Akhmatovoi Street, the SMM saw four shattered west-facing windows of a house, holes in the west-facing roof and a hole in the west-facing front door. The Mission also saw holes in the west-facing roof of an adjacent outdoor kitchen. In a field, about 15-20m west of the house, the SMM observed a fresh crater, assessed as caused by a 122mm artillery round fired from a north-westerly direction. The owner of the house (a woman, aged 65) told the Mission that the incident had occurred at around 16:00 on 10 November.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk), as foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*

In the early hours of 10 November, the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske recorded a burst from north-west to south-east 300-500m south, followed by a burst from north-east to south-west 100-300m south-west, both assessed as outside the disengagement area. On the evening of 10 November, the same camera recorded 16 tracer rounds in flight, a burst and ten shots from west to east, all 1-3km south-west and assessed as inside the disengagement area. In the early hours of 11 November, the camera recorded a tracer round in flight from south-east to north-west, followed by 32 tracer rounds from east to west, all 1-3km south-west and assessed as inside the disengagement area.

On the evening of 10 November, while on the eastern edge of government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska, the SMM heard an undetermined explosion 3-4km south (unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area) and an undetermined explosion 6-8km south-south-east (assessed as outside the disengagement area). The following evening, while at the same location, the SMM heard a burst of heavy-machine-gun fire 3km south (unable to assess whether inside or outside the disengagement area).

During the day on 12 November, positioned in an “LPR”-controlled part of Zolote (61km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard 90 shots of small-arms fire 1-2km east, assessed as outside the disengagement area and as live-fire training inside the security zone, in violation of the decision of the Trilateral Contact Group of 3 March 2016 that prohibits the conduct of live-fire training (exercises) in the security zone.

On 11 November, positioned near all three disengagement areas, the SMM observed calm situations. The following day, positioned in the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, in Petrivske and in government-controlled Bohdanivka (41km south-west of Donetsk), west of the Petrivske disengagement area, the SMM observed calm situations.

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Memorandum.

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage did not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. In government-controlled areas beyond the respective withdrawal lines, the SMM saw one surface-to-air missile system (9K35), six multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (9P138 Grad-1, 122mm) and six self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm). The SMM noted as missing: 11 MLRS (BM-21 Grad, 122mm), including four for the first time, and six MLRS (9P138) for the first time.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2] in the security zone. In a non-government-controlled area, on 11 November the SMM saw a stationary IFV (BMP-1) near Debaltseve (58km north-east of Donetsk).

In government-controlled areas, on 11 November the SMM saw an armoured personnel carrier (APC) (Kozak-variant) near Orikhove (57km north-west of Luhansk), and on 12 November it saw three stationary IFVs (two BMP-1 and one BMP-variant) near Popasna.

On 12 November, the SMM observed mine hazard signs. About 700m south-west of “LPR”-controlled Raivka (16km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM saw for the first time a rectangular mine hazard sign with “Mines” written in red letters on a white background in Russian language. The sign was attached to a wire (about 40cm above the ground) stretched across the road leading towards the Siverskyi Donets river.

About 6km west-south-west of “DPR”-controlled Vuhlehirsk (49km north-east of Donetsk), the SMM saw for the first time a mine hazard sign with “Stop mines” written in red letters on a white background in Russian language. The sign was placed on the ground in front of a building guarded by an armed person about 5-7m north-west of Vuhlehirske Street.

The SMM continued to facilitate and monitor repairs and maintenance work, co-ordinated by the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC), on 11 November to the high-voltage lines between government-controlled Troitske (69km west of Luhansk) and Novozvanivka (70km west of Luhansk), the Petrivske water pumping station in government-controlled Artema (26km north of Luhansk), and on both 11 and 12 November to the phenol sludge reservoir near government-controlled Zalizne (formerly Artemove, 42km north-east of Donetsk).

The SMM followed up on reports of water shortages in parts of Luhansk region. On 11 November, three residents (two men and one woman, mixed ages) in “LPR”-controlled Vesela Hora (16km north of Luhansk) and Obozne (18km north of Luhansk) separately told the SMM that water pressure had been back to normal levels. Residents in both villages had previously expressed concern over water shortages. (See SMM Daily Report 8 November 2017.)

On 11 November, the SMM visited three border areas not under government control. At a border crossing point near Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk), in about an hour, the SMM saw 32 cars (21 with Ukrainian, eight with Russian Federation and one with Georgian licence plates, and two with “LPR” plates), three covered cargo trucks (two with Ukrainian licence plates, and one with “LPR” plates) and three buses (all with Ukrainian licence plates and about 60 passengers in each) exit Ukraine and five cars (two with Ukrainian and three with Russian Federation licence plates), one bus (with Ukrainian licence plates and about 60 passengers) and a truck (with Ukrainian licence plates) enter Ukraine.

At a border crossing point near Dovzhanske (84km south-east of Luhansk), in about hour, the SMM saw eight cars (three with Ukrainian and five with Russian Federation licence plates), two buses (one with Russian Federation and one with Ukrainian licence plates, each with about 35 passengers) and 21 pedestrians (ten women, ten men and one girl) enter Ukraine and 22 cars (nine with Ukrainian and 12 with Russian Federation licence plates, and one with “LPR” plates), five buses (all with Ukrainian licence plates, with between 30-40 passengers in each), four covered cargo trucks (all with Ukrainian licence plates) and six pedestrians (five men and a woman) exit Ukraine.

At a border crossing point near Sievernyi (50km south-east of Luhansk), in about 30 minutes, the SMM saw 21 pedestrians exit Ukraine and eight pedestrians enter.

On 12 November, the SMM monitored a march in Kyiv city centre. The Mission saw about 2,000 people (mostly men, aged 40-70) gathered at Mykhailivska Square and walk towards the national Parliament building. The Mission heard some of the participants calling on the Government to address what they said were corruption-related issues and saw they were handing out leaflets of a political party. The SMM observed about 60 police officers and about 30 National Guard officers escorting the participants, and six police and National Guard buses parked in front of the National Bank of Ukraine on Instytutska Street. The march ended peacefully.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Odessa, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnipro and Chernivtsi.

*Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations. They have also agreed that the JCCC should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government, citing orders to do so (see below).The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remained restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access:

  • On 11 November, two armed men denied the SMM access to a compound in “LPR”-controlled Kadiivka. The SMM informed the JCCC.
  • On 12 November, armed men at a checkpoint north of “DPR”-controlled Siedove (106km south of Donetsk) denied the SMM access to the town, citing orders from their superiors. The Mission informed the JCCC. The SMM has been unable to visit the town since April 2017.

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • On 11 and 12 November, the SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. An “LPR” member positioned on the southern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC on both occasions. 
  • On 11 and 12 November, the SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads in the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC at a checkpoint on the northern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed on both occasions.
  • On 11 and 12 November, the SMM was prevented from accessing parts of the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, with the exception of the main road, due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no de-mining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC on both occasions.
  • On 11 and 12 November, the SMM did not travel across the bridge in Shchastia due to the presence of mines. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC on both occasions. 

[1] Please see the annexed report for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as a map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report. During this reporting period the SMM camera at the Oktiabr mine (Donetsk) remained non-operational. Nine SMM cameras are in a testing phase, to last until 30 November 2017.

[2] This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.